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Alumni Feature: Vitoria Fiore, fashion enthusiast and Instagram influencer

Vitoria Fiore graduated from EF Academy New York in 2014 and went on to study fashion at Parsons School of Design in NYC. Vitoria spoke to us about her experience at EF Academy, her time at Parsons, her life as an Instagram influencer, and more.

How did you find out about EF Academy, and what made you decide that it was the best choice for you?

I actually found out about EF Academy from a friend whose brother had attended school there. She knew that she wanted to go to university outside of Brazil, so she decided to leave and study in the US. When she told me that, I felt like I wanted to go with her. Before I even talked to my parents, I called EF to learn more about the program. I spoke to an admissions representative who immediately took away all the doubts and fears I was having about studying outside of Brazil. In Brazil, our high school and university system is a bit different. By leaving for my final year of high school, I felt like I would be losing time, starting university later than my friends.

The person at the EF office explained to me that with this opportunity, I would not lose anything, I would only gain. My English would improve, I would get to meet people from all over the world, and live in New York. It was then that I realized that with opportunities like this there is absolutely nothing to lose. Honestly, the support of the admissions representative here in Brazil is what sold my family and me on going to EF Academy New York. The staff was so helpful and really made me feel so safe about my decision. I was 100% sure I was going to the right place. It made all the difference to know that I had the full support not only from my parents but also from the staff.

How did your experience at EF Academy influence the decisions that you made about university and what kind of career you wanted to pursue?

When I went to EF Academy, I initially thought I only wanted to stay outside of Brazil for one year. I really didn’t want to stay far from my friends and family. I thought I would go to EF Academy, graduate, go back to Brazil for college and move on with my life.

During the spring term, my university advisor, Lauren, called me to her office and said, “Vitoria, I know that you want to go back to Brazil but I think you should apply to at least one college here.” I told her that I really didn’t want to. Of course I love New York, but Brazil is my home. She told me that I didn’t have to go to a school in the US, but that she wanted me to complete one application. Again, I thought, what do I have to lose? I decided that if I was going to apply somewhere, I might as well try for my dream school. Although I didn’t think I would get in, I decided to give it a shot and apply to Parsons.

Whenever people ask me about how I got into Parsons, the two things I say are: EF Academy and my university advisor. A lot of colleges are hard to get into, but if you have someone there to hold your hand, to support you and encourage you, that’s incredible. That’s exactly what Lauren did. She was by my side through the whole process, helping me with the application, assisting me with editing my essays and giving her opinion on what I was writing. If it wasn’t for her help, I’m sure that I wouldn’t have gotten in. When I opened the email from Parsons and saw that I got accepted, Lauren was the first person that I wanted to tell. She was so excited and to this day I know she truly changed my life.

Before you came to EF Academy New York, did you know that art and design were things you wanted to pursue for university?

I already knew that I wanted to work in fashion. When I came to EF Academy we had the choice to study theatre, music or art. I had a hard time deciding among the three, but then I saw the art classroom. When I saw Miss Eddis’s art room, I wanted to spend the rest of my life there. I think the environment of the classroom just really pulled me in.

I think I’ve always had an “art” side that I wanted to pursue. In Brazil, I didn’t really have the opportunity to explore that. At EF Academy I had the chance to explore art more and I loved it. Being able to share and learn from a group of very talented students and an amazing teacher (Ms. Eddis) was amazing. My interest in art really flourished at EF Academy and my experience helped shape where I am today.

What are some of your successes, things that you’re really proud of accomplishing, both at EF Academy and at Parsons?

Well, improving my English was a huge success, as it was really bad before going to EF Academy. Getting into Parsons was also such a success. Going to Parsons really gave me the confidence that I needed to pursue other things in fashion and design, like interning for a stylist at Vogue and working at Cosmopolitan in Brazil. It was always my dream to work in a magazine, so I’m really thankful for the connections I made through Parsons that helped me have these experiences. I’m also really proud of my Instagram.

What are your plans now that you’ve graduated from Parsons?

I am exploring social media and how that can intersect with my interest in fashion. I recently did a collaboration with a fashion brand on Instagram where I got to style a few different looks and share them on my channel, which was really fun. That was a huge encouragement that I’m headed in the right direction with my career interests, and that I have what it takes to make Instagram into a real career. I really enjoy engaging with my followers and sharing content, but at this point I’m not quite ready to make it my full-time job. I do plan to continue working on my Instagram, though – maybe it will grow into something bigger!

For the sake of my resume and my own personal experience, I want to find a job in marketing. At this point, I’m planning to start looking for jobs in New York. I really want to find something in marketing, ideally in an agency, where I can work with fashion publications. I know that going to Parsons and having a lot of references has been so helpful to continue making connections and exploring career options. As I mentioned, my experience at Parsons has allowed me to meet more people in the fashion world and understand more about how the industry operates.

You have a really cool and unique situation in that you and your brother both chose to attend EF Academy New York. Could you also talk a bit about your brother’s experience?

My brother came here one year after me. When he came to my graduation, he really loved the space and the ability to choose which subjects to focus on and which classes you want to take (since that’s not really an option in Brazil). After visiting me again when I started at Parsons, he decided he wanted to move and sort of do the same thing that I did. However, I only studied there for a year, and he applied earlier, in time to study there for two years and complete the IB program.

My brother’s experience was definitely more planned. I would say he learned from my “mistakes.” I decided so last-minute, I didn’t even know what the IB program was. I even applied to Parsons completely on a whim. My brother, on the other hand, had a clear goal and a plan. When he decided to go to EF Academy, he already knew that he wanted to study the IB program. This would give him a better chance at getting in when applying to universities in the US and Europe. He knew he needed to do whatever it would take to get there, whether it was volunteer work, extracurricular activities, or writing the perfect essay.

I think we both have such different ideas of success and what paths we want to take, but we both really found our place at EF Academy. We definitely complement each other in terms of what we want and what we’re working toward. I’m way more into art and design and fashion, and he’s into statistics and economics and math. Having such a strong foundation from attending EF Academy has been invaluable in both of our journeys.

Is there any advice you would give to someone who’s going to start school here at EF Academy New York?

Coming from Sao Paulo and being used to a big city, living in Thornwood was a very different reality for me. Sometimes I would complain about being bored, or wish I was in New York. But, now that I am in New York, I often wish to be somewhere more quiet with a lot of nature and an open sky.

I would definitely recommend to take advantage of every opportunity at EF Academy and in the surrounding areas. Set goals and really use all of your resources to the fullest. All the advisors, teachers and staff are there to support you and help you out. When you feel stressed or worried, take a deep breath. Sit in the grass, look at the sky, and think about the environment you’re in. This whole experience is unique, getting to live and learn with your friends, so don’t take it for granted. Take it all in, because you’re going to miss it.

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